Category: anxiety

DNF is Not a 4 Letter Word

For those of you who do not follow me on facebook you might not be aware of the recent drama in my life.  It started in the summer when my new friend Tanya and I started training together.  She was new to open water.  New to swimming in fact.  She is a student of my friend Kate who is a fabulous swim instructor for adults.  She’s introduced so many people to swimming and open water over the years and has helped me tons with my own stroke.

In July Tania mentioned to me that she wanted to prepare for a race but didn’t feel she would be ready for Deer Creek in August.  The next obvious choice was to take the trip out to Slam the Dam in Las Vegas at the beginning of October.  I have done this race in 2011 and it was a lot of fun.  I figured why not?  (I had signed up last year but various dramas kept me from attending).

So the training began and we got to blackridge pond as often as we could and we both saw improvement.  More importantly we had fun and became dear friends.

Tania and me.
Tanya and me.

Tanya is honestly good for my ego because she thinks I’m such a good swimmer.  I love to swim but pretty much always know I’m the slowest girl in the room and I’m ok with that.  I get the job done and that’s all that matters to me.  I’ve told Tanya repeatedly over these weeks ‘this is a hobby.  If it isn’t fun you are doing something wrong’.

That said, I’ve had nagging doubts about my abilities all along.  With my back and other chronic pain I haven’t been able to train as hard as last year, it was frustrating for me to feel like I wasn’t the swimmer I was just a few months ago.  These anxieties were made worse by the realization of a strict time limit at Slam the Dam.  For some unknown reason the park service would only give them until 11 am and then everyone has to be done.

This only gives the 1.2 mile swimmers 1 hour to swim.  The organizers have told me it is ‘plenty of time for a swim’ but they don’t understand or aren’t interested in nurturing new/nontraditional athletes.  My best time on a 1 mile swim is 53 minutes. At Deer Creek my time was 1 hr 2 minutes for 1 mile.

To make matters worse they sent out an email last week saying “If you are not adequately prepared mentally and/or physically, do not race”  What does that even mean?  I’m not mentally prepared for life let alone a race.  I mean who feels adequately prepared for something so monumental?  I bet if you asked Michael Phelps he’d tell you things he wished he’d done or worked harder on.  To me this was baffling and kind of mean-spirited. (and I begged for some kind of an accommodation but no go)

They have also made it clear that you will be pulled from the water if you go over time, which I’m ok with but I just wish the time limit didn’t exist.  It honestly makes me sick inside.  Sick for my friend.  Sick for me.  Sick for all the other new swimmers who will be discouraged from participating.  A side of me wants to throw in the towel and not make the effort to drive out there and be humiliated…

But where’s the victory in that? I’d say there is about a 50/50 chance depending on weather, current, course, strength, stroke etc that I finish the race.  My GSL time after all was 1 hr 24 minutes so not even close to the cut off time because of the strong current. (Thank you Utah races for not having a time limit or at least a strictly enforced one).

50/50…so I either succeed and have a triumphant moment or I get a DNF (Did Not Finish).  Even now there is a side of me that shudders when I say those words.  It is so outside of my nature to not finish, and yet isn’t it always a possibility in any endeavor?  At least anything worth doing can be a success or failure?

The funny thing is  the ingredients are nearly the same for a finish and a DNF- both have training, goal setting, driving, racing, happy friends and lots of people who say to me ‘I could never do that’.  The only difference is me and my pride.  Kind of silly…

I love what JK Rowling says about failure. ” It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default”

I don’t want to fail by default.  For me a DNF will be a DNQ (Did Not Quit)

swimmingHow do you guys deal with DNF’s and potential failures in your goals?  Its especially hard when it is so outside of your control.  What are your strategies?

I can definitely promise you this- I will not be swimming Slam the Dam again anytime soon.  If they only want athletes with a specific set of skills than they have got it.  This will be the last year myself or my blog are involved.  Too bad really…

I’ve gotten some great encouragement on facebook from the swim forums.  Thanks everyone!

Disneyland Day 3

Some things you might not know about me from reading only this blog- I have hard time being happy (even in the happiest place on earth) when I am A. Tired, B. Sore, or C. Hungry.  I realize this may seem very ‘first world’ of me but there you go.  We are all weak in our own way.

Well, today started out pretty good. I was feeling strong after my relaxed day yesterday and ended up spending the morning alone at California Adventure.  I like spending time by myself.  I like that nobody can hear me groan and I can go at my own pace, eat what I want, do what I want.  I suppose this is slightly unhealthy of me but again that’s the way it is with me!

Meeting the big man himself.
Meeting the big man himself.
At Muppets 3D.  Don't I look Judge Dredd?
At Muppets 3D. Don’t I look Judge Dredd?

So everything was going well and then after a few hours my feet were beginning to hurt and I headed over to Disneyland to meet up with my sister and Mom.  I waited for the omnibus which was taking forever.  Then I decided to take the train and as I was traveling realized I didn’t have my cell phone.  I had to wait until the train stopped, walk back to the omnibus area and it wasn’t there.  (It was also close to 100 degrees plus humidity!).  I went to lost and found and spent time filling out a report with a rather unhelpful lady (and very hard to understand).

I also didn’t know my sisters cell phone number or I would have called her to meet up.  My Mom didn’t have her phone.  Anyway, I had no idea what to do. Then we called my Dad ( I realized I only have 4 phone numbers memorized.  Not good!).  He was able to reach Madi’s phone and she actually had my phone!  I guess someone had found it and called the last number which was her.  Thanks kind stranger.

Anyway, I was pretty stressed out and then when I went to get back into the park I couldn’t find my ticket.  Despite taking a photo of me and stamping my hand they still require a ticket. Sorry Disney but that is dumb!  The whole situation made me cry.

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So that’s what I look like when I cry friends

A lot of this has to do with my frustrations over my pain and my unmet expectations of training and working hard on my physical fitness.  I was hoping to have more energy and fun this trip.  It was very disappointing.

So that was the drama for the day (worthy of a Disney movie right?).  Don’t worry though. It got better quick.

A smile back on my face
A smile back on my face

I’ve learned from this trip something about myself.  I like vacations where I can sleep, reconnect with myself and soak in sun (and swim as much as possible).  My Mom referred to Disneyland as a ‘walking vacation’.  Here’s what I now know:  I don’t like walking vacations.  I like sleeping vacations.

My style of vacation
My style of vacation

Good thing to learn about myself right?

So, I don’t want you all to think I didn’t have a good time or am ungrateful because that’s not true.  I did have fun.  I am grateful, especially for my Dad, everyone at Poler and my roommate for making this all happen.  Thank you so much!

Now tomorrow I’m going to the beach.  HURRAY!!!!  I can’t wait.

So you’ve got to keep learning and growing.  Hope you are all doing well.

 

 

 

 

Happiness: A Journey

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Today I was visiting with my home teachers and they asked me an interesting question.  They said ‘we’ve met many single individuals over the years but not many who seem to be as happy and content as you are.  What is your secret?’.  After thanking them for the compliment I had a hard time putting into words why I am happy.  Its kind of a hard question to answer?  There are lots of things that make me happy.  How do you sum it up?

They then talked about all of the different activities I’m involved in and how I take control of my life.  I again thanked them for the compliment and made a fumbling attempt to explain why I am happy.  Here’s a better explanation:

About 7 years ago I was seriously unhappy.  I think only God knows how low I really got.  Its again hard to explain because I wasn’t doing anything wrong per say I just felt this cloud over my life.  I hated my job.  I didn’t get to spend enough time with my friends and things I loved like school and church callings were getting crowded out by long work days and other responsibilities.  In the end, it doesn’t even have to do with that particular job.  It was this ghost of unhappiness that haunted me every day.

I related many times on this blog the events of that period- how I pushed the feelings of depression inside until they burst out in full blown panic.  It still amazes me that with all the challenges I had on my mission and being bullied at school the thing that really broke me was a perpetual stupor of unhappiness.  It makes no sense to the outward observer.  In fact, one could claim I was suffering from first world problems and should be grateful I had a job, and I was. Still, that feeling of grayness in my life is something I will never forget.

Once I had shown the world my unhappiness I had little left to gain by pretending and started to take the leaps of faith necessary to remove the cloud-cover from my life. I lowered my hours and eventually quit my job.  I graduated from school with my MBA. I moved to Draper.  Found out that working from home was right for me, started taking voice lessons, was introduced to open water swimming,  and started a book club, the list could go on and on.  cs-lewis-quotes-sayings-god-happiness-peace

Everything good in my life is because I learned what it felt like to be unhappy and chose to never allow myself to hit that kind of funk again.  Of course, I have unhappy days, even months and been through severe disappointments and anxiety in the last few years but nothing like it was in 2007.

So that’s why I am happy now. I am happy because I know what it feels like to be unhappy and the great thing is that God was with me through it all.  He never stopped telling me that He loved me and He helped me learn the lessons I needed to learn.  He kept reminding me that I needed to make a change.  He never gave up on me.  He never will.

Probably most importantly I learned from that period that God’s plan of happiness is not simply a checklist of big things to do, ordinances to make but literally a plan for our happiness down to where I worked and what I do with my life.  If he is so involved in these microdetails how can I not faith in the big things such as finding my Mr Sunshine out there.  Regardless, I will never let myself feel that way again for an extended period and that is a life-changing lesson.  I am happy because I learned that I mattered to God and His happiness requires my happiness not just my obedience.

To happiness! (Hopefully someday I can find someone to share that happiness with.  All in God’s timetable).

Inspirational-children-quote

Envy of Wallflowers

Readers of this blog probably remember that I loved the movie and book Perks of Being a Wallflower last year.  It was the first movie I felt nostalgic for, that I felt captured high school when I was a teen.  Of course, the movie is much darker and tragic than anything I experienced but the look and feel reminded me of those years.

That said, one thing it did not remind me of is the experience of being a wallflower.  What is that like? I really do wonder.

Sometimes it feels like I never get the chance to follow instead of lead.  I am not trying to brag. Believe me sometimes I wish I could take a break and follow but it never seems to work out that way.

When I was in grad school we were required to do a group project in every class which could be such a pain (with UofPhoenix they try to make it so you have basically the same classmates during your entire program).  This definitely helps you weed out the good team partners.  By the last class one person I never got to work with said ‘I never got to be a part of the dream team’.

Anyway, I always ended up leading the groups but one time I was taking my first trip to Hawaii and decided to take a lesser role, let someone else lead.  I still checked in every day (as was required for the curriculum) and tried to follow a project which was due the week after I came home (the courses were only 6 weeks).

It was a statistics class and my toughest subject during my MBA (great time to take a trip right!), but I did my best and hoped for a decent grade.  When I got home I called my various team members and they hadn’t done much on the paper.  Quickly I glanced through the assignment and realized that my teammates had read the assignment incorrectly.  They thought we had to get research already collected from scientific journals and the like. Turns out we had to collect the data ourselves.

Panicked I called my Dad who is the greatest in moments like this.  We put together a survey of JWA employees rating their benefits package and asked them to return it the next day (my Dad and uncle being president and chairman of the board probably helped with that!).  So I got the surveys back, tabulated the data, wrote the paper and had it in on time. Phew!

It was actually kind of funny I was visiting teaching coordinator, along with 2 other callings, at that time and I was terrible at that calling.  I never seemed to be able to get my calls in on time.  As it so happened just as I was tabulating data and super stressed out (I was working super long hours at this time as well) my Relief Society pres called me to ask for the numbers and I started to cry (sometimes leading can cause my anxiety, which isn’t good).  She asked me if she could help and bless her heart she came over and helped read off the survey scores as I entered them into the spreadsheet.  So I guess I was the recipient of leadership in that case.

Maybe it was the wrong lesson to learn but I never took a smaller role in a group again and that statistics class was my only B in grad school.  It wasn’t worth the risk of failure to let someone else lead and nobody challenged me for the spot so I took it and created the dream team!

The reason this was on my mind is I was discussing a dating idea on the Midsingles facebook forum called 8 at 8.  The concept is you network instead of one-on-one date.  Ideally 8 people, 4 men and 4 women, meet and have dinner together.  This way instead of meeting 1 person you have met 7 people who know so many more people, who know more people who might be right for you.  Anyway, I brought up the idea and it got a huge response.

People seemed really interested so I set up a meetup for August 14th.  Now there are 40 people signed up for the group.  21 are signed for the event.  My thought is we will figure out what we want to do for the future, organize smaller groups, but I’m sure the turnout will be smaller than rsvpd.  I’m expecting 8-10.  We are meeting at a local pizzeria just to guard against any weirdos. It should be pretty fun.

I was talking to a friend about this, and she said I was brave. I didn’t feel brave.  Of course, I went on a cruise alone to Mexico so my comfort level with strangers is pretty high. 🙂 When I was on the institute committee I remember people saying similar things when we were planning a barn dance and people were surprised I’d call someone who I knew had a barn.  Seemed obvious to me but the fact that I didn’t know the barn owner made it bold I guess…

Anyway, I was sitting wondering how I ended up as a leader in another group?  Whether its swimfest, book club, my writing group or some church function I always seem to be asked to lead.  I’m not really complaining just puzzling because sometimes it just seems to happen without really meaning too?

One thing I like about swimming is I got to be fellowshipped instead of lead. I am pretty much always the slowest swimmer in the bunch and yet I’ve never felt excluded or anything but encouraged.  Its kind of a nice change.  (yet I still have led with swimfest and helping with the newsletter but that has been fun.)

The other strange thing is I’ve never been a leader in my work, unless you count my days as a teaching assistant back in college (still my favorite job).  Funny hah? You think that would be the place I’d be most likely to lead?  I have led in my own way at work but a clerical job doesn’t exactly scream leadership.  Very strange… (I’ve also never been relief society president, thank goodness! However, I was gospel doctrine teacher for 6 years which is a type of leadership and excelled in front of the classroom)

Anyway, sorry for this long rambling post.  Does anyone out there know what I’m talking about?  Do you feel that way about leadership or are you a natural follower?

dilbert leadership
Just a laugh

Anything I Can Do You Can Do Too!

swimming

Today I went visiting teaching and told my girl about my swim.  Her response was ‘Wow!  I could never do that!’.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that response in the last 3 years (crazy that I’ve been open water swimming for 3 years btw!).  It can actually be quite discouraging because I want to inspire people to do as I do, not make it seem impossible.

If you haven’t noticed I’m not exactly the typical athlete with a svelte figure.  Every swim I’ve done I’ve weighed between 275 and 310 lbs (yes, I just admitted that to the world. Deal).  I’m a big girl and always have been.  It wasn’t all that long ago that  just the idea of swimming for a mile felt impossible but I had a gentle friend put in my path who never wavered in his support of my seemingly impossible first swim back in 2011, and I did it!

I’ve faced other challenges besides my weight such as a fall down the stairs, chronic pain/fibromyalgia, PCOS, hormone problems, diabetes scare, and more, so training isn’t always easy or even possible.  I’ve faced personal challenges, heartaches and disappointments, which have felt like a fall down the stairs.  I’ve spent a greater part of a year looking, building, buying and moving into a new house.  I have at times dealt with crippling anxiety and even panic attacks that can make goal setting difficult and self acceptance challenging.

I’ve had all the challenges any of you face and yet I’ve completed my swims.

I don’t want to sound like a great hero.  In fact, I am trying to prove the reverse- that there is nothing particularly special about me.  If I can do it, so can you.  Even people with minimal swimming experience have made amazing strides with consistent practice.  I have seen people barely be able to cross the length of a pool, swim a mile in the GSL 6 months later.  I’ve seen people conquer fear of water, waves, being submerged, etc and do great things.

The way I see it you have 2 choices in life.  You can either take chances or watch as other people take them.  Even if its not an open water swim, I am sure there is something that you look at and think ‘I could never do that’.  I guarantee you ‘THAT’ is the thing you ‘NEED’ to do!  There is nothing more satisfying than doing something you never thought you could do.  It could be singing a solo in public, painting with watercolors, running for public office, starting a small business, writing a novel, entering a triathlon, giving blood.  Whatever. Find out what that is and DO IT!

Now you may not succeed.  My friend Goody had a goal to swim the Catalina channel in California.  He was in the water for 16 hours and eventually it had to be called off.  It was devastating but he took it like the trooper he was.  You know what he had to face this year? Cancer. I can only imagine the fighting spirit he developed in that water and setting a bold goal helped him in his victorious battle.  He also became the first Utahn to swim an ice mile in below freezing water.  So, your victory may come in a different way than you had planned but it will come.

Part of the reason I know all of you can do what you dream of doing is because I face the same doubts and fears.  Every time I swim I face anxiety about whether I’ll be able to finish.  Not just before the race but many times while I’m swimming.  I got to the point in the last GSL swim where I could hardly move my right arm.  The current was killing me and I could do about 20 strokes and I’d be pushed inside.  I had seen a woman give up early in the race and I wondered again and again if it was going to be my outcome.  I guess I decided I wasn’t going to let the lake lick me and it didn’t and that is the real victory!

I have a quote on my bookcase by the divine Nora Ephron that says ‘Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim’.  Stop saying ‘I could never do that’.  Stop it!  Think of things you can do and haven’t tried and do them.  Go for it!

I can think of so many times when this advice has benefited my life.  Because of a demon of a choir teacher, I was petrified of singing in public for years.  I even refused to lead the music on my mission because I had been so humiliated as a teen.  That said- I always knew it was something ‘I wish I could do’ but thought I just wasn’t made for singing.

In 2006 I was so miserable with life that I sought fulfillment in anything and signed up for voice lessons.  My first recital my hands were shaking and my skin was pale, but you know what I got through it and 7 years later it turns out that singing in public is actually something I’m quite good at.  I’m not saying I have the greatest voice in the world but the acting and performing is a strength.  That’s the blessing of doing hard things, of pushing yourself. You find out what you are made of and it constantly surprises you!

Last year I had a goal to introduce someone to open water swimming.  I felt it had done me such good and I wanted to share the favor.  Unfortunately I come in contact with relatively few new people so I didn’t know how I would complete this goal (speaking of impossible goals!) but I had faith and even made it a matter of prayer.  Well, in April of that year I discovered #ldsconf on twitter and made a ton of new friends while watching General Conference. One was a girl from Washington State named Abby.

We still have never met but she read about my prep for the GSL swim and my race last  June and one day she asked me if I thought she could be ready for the race on the Columbia River in September.  “Sure!” was my gleeful reply.  I remind you I had never met this person and yet I felt confident she could do it.  Later I remember asking myself ‘You don’t know this person.  What if she has a terrible experience and then blames you?”

Well, fortunately she swam it and had a wonderful swim with a great time.  Life is usually like that.  We need a little encouragement to do hard things and then we pass that gift on to other people.  We are the heroes of each other or we should be.  That’s the great thing about doing hard things is it inevitably puts you in the path of other dreamers, and your life is so much the richer for those relationships.  When I think of the people I have met through just swimming and singing I am blown away.  The decision to try seems self evident for the friendships alone.

Like the poet says:

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, young or old.
Today might be your last chance to hold tight to the hand of the one you love and show all you feel.
If you are waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today?
Because if tomorrow never comes, you certainly will regret for the rest of your life
Not having spent some extra time for a smile, a conversation, a hug, a kiss,
Because you were too busy to give that person what ended up being their last wish.
Then hug tight today the one you love, your friends, your family, and whisper in their ears how much you love them and want them close to you.
Tomorrow is not promised to anyone so stop saying ‘I can’t’ or ‘I could never’ and go and do it!
There. That’s my pep talk.  Eat your heart out Zig Ziglar. Sure love ya!
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Also some did not get to see my little bit of fame from the TV the other day.  With the music and everything I was quite the culminating hero to the piece. (part 2).  I hope somebody sees it and says ‘wow. She looks like me.  Maybe I could do…’

Things that Make Me Smile

Since I just did a post on pain I figured I need to lighten things up a bit.  I do after all smile a lot.

So here are some things that make me happy:

1. Fresh Cut Flowers- I wish I could get them every day or even just go into a little flower shop and stare at them, smelling them and feeling of their cheerfulness.  One of the things I love about New York is the flower shops.  I wish I could find a place like that in Draper.  They have one flower store but it is pretty sterile. I love fresh flowers and wish I didn’t have to buy them for myself all the time.  Someday!

FRESH-CUT-FLOWERS

2. Hallmark Original Movies- In fact I am watching one right now and loving it.  It is called Remember Sunday about a man who has no short term memory because of an aneurism.   He falls in love but is afraid to tell the girl he can’t remember her.  So sweet.  Hollywood romantic comedies/dramadies have gotten so crass and crude.  I love the old fashioned sensibility of Hallmark movies.

3. Homemade Jams- Anything preserved by a loved one is just so wonderful.  I got the cutest stickers for my jam and I’ve felt so good whenever I can give a jar to a friend.  It’s just so personal and delicious.  Makes me smile!  If any of you preserve anything please  share and I am dying to learn how to make pickles, or to can my own marinara sauce.

Cutest labels ever! I guess cute labels make me smile
Cutest labels ever! I guess cute labels make me smile

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Pretty!
Pretty!

4.  An unexpected day off.  I don’t  know of much better than when the boss says ‘take an hour off early’ or ‘take the day off’. Even though I work from home I still don’t get as much time off work as I would like and a free day is so wonderful.

keep-calm-and-take-the-day-off-2

5.  Necklaces- I love necklaces. Here are some of my favorites.

jewelry

6. I love when I’m sitting in church and a toddler eyes me and I can get him to smile and giggle all the way across a room.

7.  The feeling of diving into water and being surrounded by liquid

8. Cooking when I’m either really tired or full of free time.  Most memorable example in this blog:

http://smilingldsgirl.com/2012/11/03/nanowrimo-the-spaghetti-incident/ 

me and pie

9. Comments on my blog!!  They really do make me smile

10.  A delicious book that you can’t put down.  Just read Guernsey Literary Potato Pie Society and LOVED IT!  I have read it once before but we were reading it for book club but it engrossed me even more this time.  I didn’t want to put id down!

The_Guernsey_Literary_and_Potato_Peel_Pie_Society

11.  Entertaining and making everything beautiful.   This is especially nice when I can make the people I love happy and they come to the party.

rachel-at-party

12. This painting of Jesus

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13.  Spending 2 hours talking with someone and then looking at your watch/phone and thinking ‘wow we’ve been talking this long’.  (Just happened last night! Actually it happened twice yesterday)

14. Staying in a hotel and getting room service

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15.  Farmers Markets and Bountiful Baskets

All of this for under $40!
All of this for under $40!

16. Teaching others how to cook, swim, about politics, books.  Whatever!

Teaching Taylor and Becca how to cook
Teaching Taylor and Becca how to cook

17. Winder Dairy milk delivered in bottles to my door.

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18. Calls from my nieces.

19. My bedroom

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20. The Mindy Project.  Yes, it’s hilarious

21.  I love ‘a-month clubs’.  Right now I am in a cookie of the month club and it is pretty awesome.  I love not knowing what cookie is coming and will arrive in my doorstep.  I would totally be in more if they weren’t so expensive!

21.  This makes me smile (along with tarts, candies, cookies and just about anything else that is delicious)

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Ok.  I could go on for a while.  There are a lot of things that make me smile.  My life is pretty much 70% smiles, 10% tears, 10% pondering and 10% anxiety.  All in all I’d say I have it pretty good. Wouldn’t you agree?

rachel (10)

New Homebuyer Guide

A lot of people have asked me for advice on buying a home in the last few months.  This makes me laugh a little because I was a total spazz when buying mine but maybe you all can learn from my mistakes!

So here goes:

RACHEL’S TIPS FOR BUYING, BUILDING YOUR FIRST HOUSE

1. Make a list of 10 must haves and be willing to compromise on half of those things.  I had no interest in building.  Thought my budget was about 75k less than I ended up spending, wasn’t thinking of an income property and was looking at Daybreak instead of Draper.  All those things changed. I also had to compromise on wanting an island in the kitchen and have a non-private back yard that isn’t ideal for entertaining.

2. Focus on the monthly payment not the total price.  That’s what got me to expand my budget. Once I divided it down it became less overwhelming.  Also, don’t forget to include HOAs, taxes and other expenses into your pricing decision.

3. Someone told me to plan on the house finishing 30 days after the cabinets installed.  It was I think 35 days.  Pretty good advice.

4. If trying to get FHA loan make sure FHA approvals are in for the unit you are buying.  FHA is whacked out and they can refuse a unit within a complex that everything else is approved. It took me an additional month to get FHA approval on the house and it was super stressful.

5. Have a mortgage broker you can trust.  Mine was fabulous.  Marc and Christopher at City Creek Home Mortgages were very patient.  One time Marc went through all the fees and escrows of my home purchase and then after talking with my uncle I was freaking out and he explained it all over again to me.  Can’t ask much more than that.  https://citycreekmortgage.com/

Their rates were also competitive with others that I checked.

6. FHA loans are low down payment (I think I paid 3% plus closing costs), mortgage insurance for first 5 years but a lower interest rate.  Traditional loans have higher interest rate, no mortgage insurance and at least a 10% downpayment.  I decided I was diving into my house for the long haul so I went with the lower interest rate and capital fluidity FHA loan gave me.

7.  Do as much of the packing early on as you can.  I did pretty well with this one.  I also recommend buying a packet of boxes from Uhaul.  It is very reasonable and if you don’t use any they will buy them back.  I needed so many boxes! The nice thing about the Uhaul boxes is they have handles and are really sturdy.  http://www.uhaul.com/MovingSupplies/Boxes/

8.  It might take a long time.  It might not to find the place for you.  I was surprised how quickly I decided to build.  I also always thought I would need tons of time to weigh my options and make such a big decision, but when it came down to it there is a finite number of factors and at a certain point I was just mulling over the same stats again and again.  Just make the decision your gut tells you to make.

10.  Find a realtor that gels with your personality and style.  If you want someone who will work quickly and be proactive find that kind of realtor.  If you want someone that will be cool and relaxed, no pressure, find that type.  Mine was the latter.  Since most sellers pay realtor fees I don’t see why anyone would want to brave buying a house alone.  Why not!

11. Think about the potential of an area.  Look at what is being built around it and if there are any vacant lots or construction planned.  I know my location is always going to be hot because of the closeness to the freeway and the new adobe building, ikea, outlets, etc.  Up in Suncrest is a little bit more removed, which could be a good or bad thing.

12. Get a therapist.  I know you think I am joking but I’m so glad I had one.  It was a very anxious time for me.  So many decisions to make, so much to do, so much waiting (that’s the hardest part) and so much out of your control.  I can imagine a therapist would be good for a couple as well (of course, I think that is generally a good idea for couples.  Call me crazy!).  It’s just a tough time.

13. Find out rules and restrictions of your area for special projects.  This would have saved me a lot of grief with my income property.  When the range got unapproved I panicked.  It didn’t have anything to do with safety but a multi-family code.  I don’t think I would have done anything differently because it has all worked out but it would have saved some anxious moments.

14. Be nice to your friends.  You will need them for the move 😉 (Some wards don’t do moves any more I discovered)

15. Find projects you can do right away to keep yourself from going nuts.  Pick out paint colors or get a patio set.  Whatever.  I had a lot of fun designing my curtains, closets and furniture before I moved and it least helped me feel somewhat productive.   (Although make sure you have enough to pay your downpayment!

16.  Don’t buy a house over Christmas!  That was super hard.

17. I know I initially felt some anxiety about getting pre-approved.  It’s a really easy process and doesn’t commit you to anything.  You are not committed to that lender (and in some cases builders have particular lenders they want you to use for preapproval).

18. Get ready to sign your name like a million times, middle name included.

19. You will probably gain 10-15 lbs while waiting and moving and that’s ok.  (or maybe that is just me…)

20. It’s a hard experience for everyone but the most seasoned buyers.  It’s ok to freak out and have break downs.  Its a big deal.

21.  Throw a open house and celebrate your move in! (Another fun thing to plan while waiting).  I did a big custom cake and told all my friends.  You don’t have to do that but its nice to show your house to all your friends.

22.  Outsource!  I outsourced light fixture installation, tv mounting, artwork placement, setting up my grill, furniture assembly.  Best money I ever spent.  Plus, you get references that can be used throughout the life of your home.

23. Splurge on at least 1 item.  For me it was my black out curtains.  You are buying a house.  Don’t be a cheapskate on everything.

24. Don’t forget to look out for storage.  Be open to creative solutions, like in my basement apartment we used a pocket door and set up shelving in the closet under the stairs to make it more usable.  It was not expensive and works great.   I also spent $453 to put storage in the garage.  Great investment

25.  If you have an income property call references, and get to know them a little bit. Usually a nice place will get you nice tenants. And don’t enter their apartment without their approval unless it is an emergency.   I also spent $300 to put insulation in the ceiling boards to give them more privacy and so they’d have less upstairs noise.  Well worth it.  I kept thinking if I lived there what would I want? As I lived in a basement apartment for 2 years it was easy to answer!

26. Hold a family/group meal soon after you move in.  It just makes a house a home.

27. It’s ok to house brag a little.  I felt kind of guilty at first that I was showing off but none of my friends cared.  I figure they had to hear all the complaining, the least I could do is let them in on some of the joy.

28. Don’t forget to think ahead.  My friend’s husband bought his house before they had met and didn’t think of getting good closets being a man and all.  Your life might change and you need a place with at least a little bit of flexibility and that you won’t grow out of in 2 years.

29. Get ready and go for it.  It is super hard.  No doubt about it but it is worth it.

30.  Pray before putting in your offer for confirmation it is right.  Pray for strength, peace, assurance and help.  Also, once you have moved in have the house dedicated in some way.  In our church there is a prayer for that but it could be a new agey thing.  Whatever.  I think it helps with a sense of closure to the buying process and the beginning of living in your house.

So that’s my advice.  Good luck in your search.

framing house

Went through all the stress of a home build
Went through all the stress of a home build

 

 

More Delays

Some of you that don’t follow me on facebook may be curious to know where my house is at.  Unfortunately I don’t have great news.  The house is done and gorgeous but I can’t go through closing until the FHA on the complex gets approved.  I’m not going to hear anything until Tuesday because of the Monday holiday.  We have no idea if we will even hear anything then. I think I am going to go crazy!

To make matters worse we could go through all of this and get denied for the myriad of reasons FHA has. I’m trying to not think about that because it is highly unlikely but still possible and with so much time to stew on things the mind reels. Yesterday I caused myself to have a mini-panic attack trying to decide between keeping with the FHA loan or abandoning it and going conventional.  In the end, I decided to stick with what I have and not second guess myself.

So now it is just waiting. The house is done.  It’s sitting there and I’m waiting.

In the meantime I’m trying to curtail my anxiety and fears as best I can.  Mostly I’m trying to distract myself from the boxes and the continually rescheduled moves and the looming loan and closure and some moments I do better than others.  A lot of the day my brain feels like it is going to explode.  Like I’m in a big vice and it gets tighter and tighter.  I’m left wondering what I can do and the answer is nothing and that makes things tighter and tighter.

So all there is to do is wait and sigh and try to distract myself.  I wish I could explain it better but the attempt feels totally futile.   I’m not stressed out, I’m not even anxious.  You know that feeling when you are just about to throw up, like your insides are going to pop outside of you?  That’s how I feel all the time. I wish I could help it.  I wish I could make it go away.  I wish I could grow up and deal with things better.  Sorry I’m really trying.

I am trying to make things nice for my tenants by ordering a POD to be delivered at the house on Monday so they can do part of the move on Monday if they wish.  It’s the least I can do with all they have put up with.

And all I can do is wait…

Control

I am relaxing tonight after a long week.  Work on my house has been clipping along and it looks like I can do the walk through on Monday! Still not sure on closing because of an FHA approval that is ‘in process’ (that is all the government will tell us.  Sigh!).   The house looks great and I’m very happy with it.

It makes me happy as well that my tenants are happy with it and  “LOVE it” (from their text caps and all).   They certainly have been through a lot waiting for this house right along with me and I’ve been so grateful for their patience and kindness.  I definitely chose the right people to share a home with!

Strangely the building (and waiting) of my house was actually the happy part of the week.  It was a very intense week at work with end of the month and end of the year responsibilities.  I’m still packing up my house and had a full schedule.

The real mess started with my soon to be roommate staying up at my Dad’s rental while my house is being finished.  I felt bad but the situation got worse with a break in, her laptop getting stolen and a missing person’s case forcing the police back up to the house.  Then to make matters worse I was still showing the house to potential tenants.  On Wednesday someone looked at the house and LOVED it.  They said ‘we want to sign the contract and get in asap’.

In fact, they wanted to get in the house on Saturday (tomorrow), giving me only 3 days to get the house cleaned, carpet cleaned, move my Dad’s stuff, get it ready to go. Not to mention getting my roommate moved ( I feel so bad about that! The woman deserves Sainthood for all she’s been through).

At first I said no way but then the money convinced me to give it a try.  (Stupid!).  Me and the manager worked very hard to get everything ready but with the snow storm it became clear yesterday that it wasn’t going to happen.  We didn’t want to endanger the cleaners or make things unsafe.

I tried to call, text and email them about the delay and didn’t hear back from them so we kept on working.  Stacia, the manager, worked after getting a root canal done that morning!  Then finally at the end of the day (while I still got my 8 hours in for my regular job and missed my swim!) they sent me a text saying they got ‘cold feet because of the storm’.  Sigh…

It was super frustrating.  I just wish they had expressed some concerns to me sooner or at least been more up front with me yesterday so we hadn’t killed ourselves working on such a tight deadline.  I’m exhausted!

Anyway, it’s just as well.  What made me think of this is I was talking to someone today and they said

‘I’m more of a Spartan when handling such things’

and

‘Why waste energy and anxiety over things you have no control over?’

This made me feel a little sad because I hate being weak.  Sometimes it feels like everyone else is tougher, stronger, braver, better than me and I’m a big wimp.

Here’s the thing I realized- Maybe I am the Spartan because I do get through it all and channel anxiety in the best way I know how?   I take the burden of my fears and worry and still complete the goals in my life.  Doesn’t that in a way make me twice as tough?

Here’s the second thing- I also do it for the most part completely alone.   Yes, I have family and friends who love and support me (thank you!) but as far as the day to day financial, work, social decisions of my life I take all the pressure and have to make all the decisions.

I know women who have made almost no decisions independently of a spouse or parent in their life, ever.  I think it can be hard for these types of people to understand the pressure, anxiety and fear that can go into each choice.

If I have a fear that everything will go wrong and an anxiety for the future maybe it is because I’ve fallen flat on my face enough in life to know how much it sucks?  I think in a way it is a protective instinct.  To protect me from the pain I try to prepare for it.  I also feel like once I had my first panic attack my brain changed and I just don’t absorb things like I used to.  I fear going through that again because it was awful.

Just look at this house- it is 100% all me.  I made every choice as far as colors, size, dimensions, income property, tenants, everything.  Getting the loan, picking the location, going through closing will be only me.  Again, that is a lot of pressure. If it fails I am the one that is blamed.   It is the same way with my work- all 3 of my jobs. Yes, I have associates and support but in the end it is me alone in my apartment working.  No substitutes, no excuses.

And I do it all with a diagnosed anxiety disorder…maybe I’m not so weak?

Here’s the third thing- Asking the question ‘why worry about things you can’t control?’ is sort of redundant for anxiety sufferers because

I can’t control my anxiety!

Yes, I can channel it; and yes, I can learn to react to it more effectively but at a certain point it is there and just like any other illness you have, and you must work with your body to respond in a healthy way.

This is so hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced that out of control feeling but believe me it is real.  I actually feel I have handled things pretty well considering.  Believe me if I had given into every moment of anxiety I felt I would have been way more of a mess!

So there you go world- Just think about it when you use that CONTROL word because what is in my control as far as anxiety may be just as challenging as my control over FHA approvals or anything else.

CONTROL (Maybe that’s why I like blogging I can control it and it is all mine!)

What do you all think about control and dealing with pressure?  I’d be especially curious to hear from my single friends that have to do a lion-share of the decision making and how they deal with that? Especially singles who have purchased homes!

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Trying to figure everything out
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Worrying Rachel
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Try to smile through the fears

An Absorber

Something has been on my mind that maybe all of you, internet world, can have some insight into.  Maybe you can relate?

Do any of you have friends who seem to be able to handle just about anything that is thrown at them? What I mean is I have friends and family in my life that never get unglued, never feel panic or anxiety, and we are talking after dealing with some serious trials and yet they bounce back so well.  Do you have people in your life who keep a constant calm while the world is swirling around them?

I envy those people.  As much as I try I just can’t do it.  In fact, I have to consciously allow myself to express anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed or the problem only gets worse.  The whole reason I had my first panic attack was because I balled everything up inside of me for 3 years until it exploded. I learned the hard way that keeping it all in my head only made things a million times worse for me.

This week I am feeling haggard and worn out.  Trying to manage 3 jobs, moving, waiting for the house and the loan, managing my tenants, finding tenants for one of my Dad’s properties who wants to be in by Saturday which necessitated the moving of my tenants (sigh…) and going to a new ward.  All of that in one week!

And yet I think of my friends with special needs kids or a myriad of other challenges and my problems seem so small; yet that doesn’t stop my brain from feeling like it is going to explode.  My heart starts to race.  My head aches.

I guess when it comes down to it I wish I could be more of an absorber.  It makes me feel weak that life wallops me so often.  I honestly try to be stronger but again that can make it all worse.   I see little improvements in how I handle anxiety and I ALWAYS finish what I start but the journey can be rough.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve turned into kind of a lousy adult because I come unglued so easily.  Things seem to make me nervous or anxious that other people don’t even care about.

For example, I was talking with a friend about my frustrations over being alone for Christmas and she mentioned all of the great things she did when she was alone at Christmas and it made me feel more frustrated.  It just feels sometimes like others have it all figured out and I am playing catch up.  Do you ever feel that way?

I think the challenge is finding that balance between improving myself and self-acceptance.  I want to do better and I certainly don’t want to feel anxiety but then I also want to acknowledge what I am feeling and deal with it in a constructive way.

I don’t know if any of this makes any sense so please tell me if you see any of this in your life?

How can I do better?  How can I be more of an ABSORBER?  What do you do to manage anxiety in your life in a productive way?

On a related note, one of my frustrations is that it is difficult to adequately describe how I feel.  Stress definitely doesn’t encapsulate it and anxiety is really too clinical for most people.  Pressure or feeling overwhelmed is the best I can do.  I think this image says a lot more than my words ever could.

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